How to Get More High-Paying Customers Without Breaking the Marketing Budget

Businesses rely on customers to turn profits.  But only if you target the right customers. High-paying customers are essential for growing sales and profits. You find these desirable  customers by advertising your goods or services.  Marketing what your business has to offer is often an expensive and risky gamble that may or may not pay off.  Luckily, in the digital age, it’s easier than ever to draw in new high-paying customers.

If your business has a web page, your main source of finding new customers will be through referrals.  Knowing how to get referrals is the key to increasing your web traffic.  If you sell products online, more traffic is directly correlated to an increase in sales.  If you have a regular brick and mortar storefront, more web traffic means more visitors to your store who will potentially become buyers.

Depending on how much computer knowledge you have and how much time you have to dedicate to cultivating referrals, you may want to consider hiring professionals.  Consulting businesses are available for hire to help increase your web traffic.  They can address your sites content, layout, and web presence to help direct a specific demographic of visitors your way.  By targeting a certain audience, you’re more likely to increase sales because you’ll be drawing in customers that are more likely to be interested in the goods and services you’re offering.  On the downside, these services can be costly for a small business.

If you’re not able to hire a professional, or if you just want to attempt to increase traffic yourself, setting up a small business referral system is an easy and effective way to find potential customers.  One of the most common referral systems involve having current customers refer their friends and family for an incentive.  Usually, if a customer refers a few people who then become buyers, the customer doing the referring wins a reward, such as a discount or a gift card.  Cultivating referrals in this manner is less expensive than traditional advertising and is also significantly more successful.  This method is free to implement, but will cost your business revenues caused by the discounts or gift cards used to encourage customers to spread the word. That’s why it’s important to target high-paying customers.

You can also set up a page for your business on a social networking website, such as Facebook or Twitter.  Once you have an established page, you can start offering contests and giveaways.  To enter the contest or giveaway, you can require your customers to refer a certain number of friends and family members, who are likely to also become customers if they already know someone doing business with your company.  Before setting up a social network page, read the rules and regulations regarding postings and other activities.  Many social networking sites are now charging money for businesses to reach all of their fans, so check out the fine-print before going through the work of starting a page for your company.

Taking advantage of available technology will allow you to instantly reach and draw in many new high-paying customers to your business.  Learning how to get referrals on your own or with the help of a professional is the first step to increasing your sales and growing your business, so get out there and start reaching new buyers.

Developing Salespeople: Creating a Coaching Budget

Developing salespeople is like saving for retirement. If you don’t create  a realistic plan and invest accordingly you’ll be disappointed when you retire. Salespeople need a plan and an investment of time and energy in order to help them realize their full potential. Too often training and developing salespeople becomes a “round to it” for sales managers because they have other more pressideveloping salespeopleng things to do…like paper work and meetings. This is a mistake you can’t afford to make.

Another mistake sales managers make is treating every salesperson the same. This article will help develop salespeople while getting the most from each salesperson and your time.

Developing Salespeople

Each salesperson will require different approaches and need varying amounts of time.  Since you can’t be all things to all people, you must assess where your management time will bring its greatest return.  This means you must allocate your coaching time to make sure the people who have the greatest need and potential receives the most time.  The people who have the least need and represent the smallest potential for improvement receive the least time.

To make sure that you effectively allocate your time properly you’ll need to take the following actions:

      Create a Coaching Budget — To help you determine how much time you have available to spend with your people. For example if there are 240 work days and you want to spend 60% of your time coaching salespeople then your budget is 144 days. The results you get from developing salespeople are determined by how you spend your coaching budget.

      Assess each salesperson — When assessing salespeople you want to focus on their skills, knowledge and attitude. Make sure that you assess for  both the needs and potential of your people.  This will help you to spend the most time where the need and potential is greatest.

      Allocation of Coaching Days — Based on your assessment you now must commit your time to ensures that each salesperson gets an optimal amount of coaching time.  The key to setting priorities in this situation is to ask these questions “What will happen to performance if I don’t spend time with the salespeople?” and, “What will happen if I do?”

      Coaching Calendar — This formalizes your allocation of coaching time.  Since coaching time is the most important activity you can perform schedule it in your weekly and monthly plans first.  Then schedule other activities around your allocated coaching days.  Doing so will help prevent you from getting bogged down doing unimportant but urgent tasks instead of spending time with your people.

Developing salespeople won’t happen unless you make the time to do it. There are always going to be activities waiting to steal your time and distract you from your most important responsibility. If you want your salespeople to be peak performers then create your coaching budget and stick with it. Committing your budget to your calendar helps create the necessary discipline to make it happen.

If you’d like more information on creating a coaching budget and developing salespeople check out my eBook “Coaching for Peak Performance”. 

Developing Salespeople with Effective Coaching

Developing salespeople doesn’t happen automatically. Many sales manager never invest the time and attention to do so and end up paying the price in turnover and poor sales. Developing salespeople requires you to understand and apply a simple yet powerful coaching process.  This process involves three steps. They are:developing salespeople

1.    Recognize coachable moments. Coachable mo­ments are specific opportunities where coaching is most likely to make an impact. Coachable mo­ments fall into three ar­eas:

  • When sales­people perform well;
  • When sales­people fail to per­form; and
  • When salespeople seek help.

2.    Engage. This means taking the coach­-able mo­ments and turning them into performance discus­sions. These performance discus­sions should be brief, very fo­cused, and viewed as helpful by salespeople. These are great  opportunities for developing salespeople.

3.    Mobilize. To effect change, man­agers must con­vert the perfor­mance discussions into actions. These actions can be comprehen­sive (e.g., devel­op­ing a key ac­count plan) or focused (e.g., use visuals during a presentation). Developing salespeople requires that you monitor your salespeople’s progress with the actions you assign.

Coachable Moments

In order to get peak performance from your salespeople you have to use every opportunity to develop their effectiveness. You as a coach must recognize and respond to coaching opportunities as they present themselves. This means using a different approach with each coachable moment. We’ll discuss each one separately.

When salespeople perform well.  Your objective in this situation is to reinforce the salesperson’s positive behavior. This coachable moment is often overlooked because many managers feel that salespeo­ple don’t need positive reinforcement. Unfortunately, this is a faulty assumption. Reinforcing positive behavior increases the frequency of the behavior. If you fail to reinforce positive behavior, it will occur less often.

When you want to reinforce or praise the perfor­mance of a salesperson, use the BIT Model.

B= Behavior Describe what the salesperson is doing that is positive.

I= Impact Describe why the salesperson’s perfor­mance is important and how it contributes to the organiza­tion.

T= Thank You Deliver a specific expression of appreciation.

An example of giving a BIT would be: “Making those extra calls this month has really paid off. Your 20 percent over budget really helped us get over the top this month. I really appreciate the extra effort you’ve put in. Keep up the great work!

When salespeople fail to perform. Your objective for this coachable moment is to give feedback and help salespeople improve a specific area of their performance. Giving negative feedback is not always easy, but it is necessary for improvement. To mini­mize the potential of causing salespeople to become defensive and not motivated, make sure your feedback is specific, focuses on behavior, and helpful. Using the BIEC Model should help you do so effectively.

B=  Behavior-Describe what his/her behavior is doing or not doing that needs improvement.

I= Impact-Describe how the behavior is impact­ing performance.

E=  Expectation-Explain what you expect the salesperson to do or not do to change.

C=Consequence-Explain what will happen if the salesperson changes or the consequences if the behav­ior continues.

He­re’s an exam­ple of the BIEC Model:  “Mary, this is the fourth time this month you’ve submitted sales orders with incomplete or inaccurate informa­tion. When you do this, the order has to be re-written and reprocessed. This adds to our costs and delays the order from being pro­cessed. Delays in orders can lead to lost sales and dissatisfied custom­ers. From now on, I expect your orders to be submit­ted with all the information complete and accurate. Doing so will make it easier to process your orders and keep your customers happy. Also, we can’t afford to jeopardize business because of poor paper­work. If there are future prob­lems, we’ll have to review your account list”.

When your salespeople seek help in solving a problem or maximizing an opportunity. Too often, managers solve their people’s problem instead of managing the problem-solving process. Managers take this approach because it seems the most expedient. In the short run, it probably is. But in the long run, the approach creates salespeople who are dependent on their managers. If you want to develop salespeople who take initiative, accept responsibility, and hold themselves accountable, then remember, the goal of this coachable moment is to support their efforts, not solve their problems.

Using the CEAC Model will help you draw your salespeople out and identify how you can best support their efforts.

C= Clarify the problem or opportunity.

E= Engage in a discussion of what options are available to address the issue.

A= Agree on actions to be taken with deadlines (What, by when and by whom).

C= Commit your support to the initiative.

Summary

Developing salespeople with effective coaching is an investment that requires both time and effort. A few minutes before and after a sales call or while a salesperson is developing a proposal can pay huge dividends.  Therefore,you must view coachable moments as opportunities to make a difference, not a distraction from your job.  Remember, sales managers who are constantly looking for oppor­tunities to make a difference, generally do. So, don’t let your coachable moments go unful­filled.

Developing Salespeople with the OREO Model

Developing salespeople is easy when you can understand and apply three basic concepts:

1.  “Winning is fun, losing isn’t!”

2.  “Winning is different for every person!”developing salespeople

3.  “Your job as a manager is to help your people win everyday!”

When you discover what winning is for your people, then you are well on your way to helping them succeed. The quickest way to help salespeople win is to have a clear description of where they want to go or what they want. This is called an outcome. Using their outcomes to achieve business goals is an effective method of getting results and developing salespeople.

One way to organize a plan for achieving an outcome is the OREO Method developed by corporate trainer, Gerry Schmidt.

  •  Outcome: What is the desired result?
  • Reality: What is the current situation, including the resources available and the resources that are needed to change the  current situation?
  • Evidence: What evidence will be used to demonstrate that the outcome has been achieved?
  • Operations: What will the salesperson do to achieve the desired outcome?

Here are some important guidelines for Applying OREO while developing salespeople:

1.    Key to successful coaching is having a clearly stated and well-formed outcome. To discover someone’s outcome ask, “What do you want?”

To ensure that the person’s outcome is well-formed, make sure that it is:

•      Stated in the positive (describe what the person wants and not what the person doesn’t want).

•      Within the person’s control. The actions that will lead to the desired outcome must be within the person’s control.

•      Actions must be small enough and specific enough to facilitate immediate action.

•      Actions must have time frames.

•      Achieving the outcome will produce or lead to achieving a larger goal or outcome.

To determine the larger goal or outcome ask, “What will ________________ (insert desired outcome) get you or allow you to do?

2.    The next step is to assess the person’s current reality and compare it to the desired outcome. To assess a person’s reality, ask the following questions:

•      Compared to your desired outcome, where are you now?

•      What stops you from having the desired outcome now?

•      What are you doing that is keeping you from having the desired outcome?

•      What resources are available?

•      What resources are needed?

3.    Evidence defines how people will know that their outcome has been achieved. To determine a person’s evidence ask, “How will you know when you have achieved this outcome?”

To help clarify the evidence, ask the following:

•      What will other people see, hear, and feel when you achieve your outcome?

•      What will be the first indications that you’re making progress towards your outcome?

•      What other benchmarks will you use?

•      What will be the long-term impact of achieving the outcome?

•      How will achieving this outcome impact other areas of your life?

4.    Operations outline the person’s plan of attack. To discover a person’s operation, ask “What will you do to achieve this outcome?”  To make the plan as practical and effective as possible, ask the following questions:

•      How else can you achieve the outcome?

•      What are you going to do first?

•      Specifically, when are you going to do it?

•      What could get in the way of your success?

•      What support do you need to be successful?

•      How certain are you that you will carry out the agreed upon actions? (Use a scale of 1-10, with 10 being absolutely certain.) If the rating is less than an 8, find a new outcome or a new plan of action.

When salespeople do things for their reasons they are far more motivated than if they were doing things for yours.  Using the OREO model for developing salespeople helps you keep them focused on activities that produce meaningful results.

Sales Process: The Key to Growing Sales, Profits and Customer Loyalty

sales processThe sales process is one of the most overlooked assets a small business has for growing sales, profits and customer loyalty. If you want to grow your business this is one of the first places to look for dramatic results. I’ll explain why and what you can do to get the most out of yours.

A sales process is a series of documented steps salespeople follow to move prospects from first contact to purchase. It should include:

  • Each specific step a prospects take
  • Knowledge prospects need to move to the next step
  • Resources you can provide to help prospects move forward
  • Length of time a prospects need at each step
  • Metrics that measure conversion rates (the percentage of prospects that move from one step to the next) for each step

With a documented sales process, you have a powerful tool that enables you to:

  • Sell more efficiently
  • Create more accurate sales and revenue reports
  • Estimate the revenue and return on investment (ROI) of your marketing campaigns
  • See which stages take the most time and find ways to move prospects forward
  • Create better literature and tools
  • Improve your campaigns
  • Minimize time your reps spend on estimates and forecasts

Unfortunately, with all the benefits of a defined sales process 70% of companies don’t require their salespeople to comply with a standardized, documented set of sales processes.*(*ES Research Group)

Not getting  compliance may be caused by any number of factors including:  the process is poorly designed, or it’s not understood or it’s not supported by the organization. For whatever reason, allowing salespeople to “wing it” is a very expensive business strategy. Without a defined sales process resources can’t be effectively allocated, revenues can’t be accurately forecasted and customers may not get the information they need when they need it. All these factors contribute to lost sales, lower profits and diminished customer loyalty.

Even if your company has a defined sales process, that doesn’t guarantee success. Your next challenge is to make sure that your sales process aligns with your customers’ buying process. Starting the sales relationship just after a customer purchased from a competitor is far more challenging than starting when the customer first becomes aware of a need or want. When do you want your salespeople to start allocating selling time and company resources? Aligning your sales process with your customers’  buying process ensures your selling efforts begin as early in the buying process as possible. Thus giving you the best chance to influence the sales outcome.

Does your sales process make sure that you use the right selling effort supported by the right resources to make sure that sales are made in the shortest time with the fewest resources? If your answer is not a definite yes then you have a great opportunity for growing your business without adding costs. Improving your sales process doesn’t add costs because it’s simply directing your selling effort more effectively. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll start seeing bottom line results.

Sales Message: Is Yours Positioning You to Win?

Sales MessageIs your sales message positioning you win, draw or lose? The answer depends on several factors including if your sales message is  heard, who is hearing it and how effective it is.

Having your message heard is a role of the media, message, timing, frequency and delivery. A recent LinkedIn survey revealed the number-one challenge on the minds of sales professionals was “getting the attention of prospects”. Customers are bombarded with information, so much so everything begins to sound like “Blah, Blah, Blah”. Making matters more challenging is only 3% of your target market is in the buying mode at a given time. If they aren’t buying they aren’t listening.  Getting your sales message to your customers too early, too late or without impact is a waste of time, money and energy.

In the communication jungle, there are just too many products, too many companies, and too much marketing noise. The mind, as a defense against the huge volume of today’s communications, screens and rejects much of the information it’s offered. The only hope to deliver your sales message is to be selective and to focus on narrow targets. In a word: “positioning.”

According to John Foley CEO of Interlink One,“This is a one-on-one world…you have to really be more relevant with the marketing channel and the media you use to the people you’re trying to reach and not only relevant in those channels or media, but also the content, messaging, timing, and even how they’ll respond.”

To effectively position your your products and services you must find out:

  • How the marketplace sees your company
  • How your ideal or target customers see your company and what they value
  • What you know about your own company and the customer value it creates

Positioning your sales message should be a foundation for action to design, manage and defend your brand. It should inform everything you do, including:

  • What  customer value you create
  • What you value
  • What’s your sustainable competitive advantage
  • How you conduct your business
  • How you communicate and interact with customers

Business consultant and CEO of Grow My Revenue Ian Altman worked with a health insurance company who was getting a 1% response rate to their cold calling efforts. Sales were down and morale was even lower. Altman helped the company change their generic sales message to one that highlighted what the company did best and appealed to a large segment of the market. Selling the same products with the same salespeople, the company saw its response rate increase to 30%. Achieving such a dramatic increase was accomplished by simply delivering a better sales message.

You must view your sales and marketing messaging as an asset that  you can quickly leverage into increased sales and profits.

Take a close look at your sales message and ask yourself: How does it help your ideal customers  clearly understand how your solution uniquely satisfies their buying criteria and emotional needs; and is it delivered when it most influences the buying decision in your favor? If you answered no to either one you’ve got some work to do. Improve your sales message and watch sales grow.

Hiring Solutions: Developing Successful Recruitment Ads

Are you looking for hiring solutions for building a better sales force? If you are one of the first areas to look is you recruitment ads. With increasing competition, it becomes imperative that you hire the right person for the job. Otherwise, you face the very real prospect of losing your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

If you’re going to run a job ad, make sure it pulls the type and number of candidates needed to make it worthwhile. All too often, companies sacrifice their recruitment message in the name of timeliness. Because of unexpected vacancies, managers fall into the trap of placing an ad as quickly as possible, regardless of its merit. Placing an ineffective ad is a waste of time.

To attract top sales talent you need effective recruitment ads.

Hiring solutions for developing successful recruitment ads

Use these five steps to develop recruitment ads that will attract the talent you need to build your sales organization.

1. Define your recruitment goals.

•Do you need to fill one position or several?

•What is the recruiting time frame?

•What are the Critical Job Dimensions (CJDs) you’re looking for?

•What sort of training will you provide?

•What career opportunities are available?

•How much can candidates expect to earn?

2. Define the job for candidates.

•What responsibilities will they have?

•What industries will they be selling to?

•Who will they be calling on?

•What are the downsides of the job (e.g., travel, new product, commission only, etc.)?

3. Identify the job’s strong points.

•What is unique about this job?

•What does your company have going for it?

•What do your salespeople like about the job?

4. Develop the body copy.

  • Use key words that will attract top talent to your ad. If they don’t find you they can’t apply.
  • Elaborate on your primary message by stressing as many benefits as possible.
  • Talk about the company. Research shows that sales professionals want to know about more than just the job.  They want positive facts about the company.
  • Mention negatives about the job (e.g., evening work, heavy travel, relocation, etc.). Doing so helps weed out candidates unwilling to accept certain conditions. You can phrase downsides of the job without being negative. A heavy travel requirement, for example, can be phrased as an invitation to “see the U.S.A.”

5. Issue a strong call to action.

Decide how you want candidates to respond. Consider the following:

  •  Call for an appointment
  •  Send a resume
  •  Send a letter outlining their qualifications for the job

Your call to action can be an also be an effective qualifier and make this hiring solution even more effective. For example if you want a large number of candidates to apply you can say, ” Immediate openings. Training starts next week. Call today for your personal interview.”  Or if you want to be more selective you can say something like,” If you’re a top producer and are ready to take on a bigger challenge and be rewarded for it send you resume today. If you’re not a top producer who can back up your claim don’t bother applying.”

The One of the keys to success in the New Economy is to “win with your winners and not lose with your losers.”  The hiring solutions outlined here will save you time and energy. It will also add sales, profits and customer loyalty for your company because by following these steps you’re increasing your chances of hiring winners.

 

Developing Salespeople While Coaching on the Run

One of the biggest casualties in the battle to “do more with less” is developing salespeople. With fiercer competition, shorter deadlines, and the urgent replac­ing the important, sales managers are starting to view developing salespeople as a luxury they just can’t developing peopleafford.

Although common, this approach to manage­ment is short-sighted and can lead to long-term disaster. Even with more demands on your time you must realize that developing salespeople isn’t something you do instead of your job. It is your job!

This means finding opportunities to make a difference as they present themselves.

The key to coaching on the run is the “hand in the bucket” test. When you put your hand in a bucket of water, the water level rises.  This is the case when a you spend time with a sales­person. While you are present, the sales­person’s level of perfor­mance is elevated.  The real test for developing salespeople occurs when you are no longer present. Does the salesperson’s performance return to the previous level, or does it stay elevat­ed?  In other words, did you leave something with the salesperson to make a real and lasting difference?

Before we discuss some of the specific aspects and techniques for coaching on the run, let’s review what it takes for salespeople to perform at their optimal level. Use the checklist below to determine if you’re giving your salespeople what they need to win.

Coaching Checklist for Developing Salespeople

  • Do your people have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do?
  • Do your people have clear standards for ac­ceptable performance?
  • Do your people have the authority and re­sourc­es to perform effectively?
  • Do your people encounter little task interfer­ence (e.g., conflicting goals, objectives, procedures,   etc?)
  • Do your people receive timely and accurate feedback on their performance?
  • Do your people receive positive conse­quences and reinforcement for performing the job as it’s supposed to be done?
  • Do your people experience negative conse­quences when they fail to perform?

These guidelines apply to performance in general, as well as specifics tasks and assignments. Use the questions to assess your coaching abilities and to analyze performance problems.

Each “no” represents a potential performance problem for developing salespeople. Taking action to convert your “no” respons­es to “yes” will go a long way toward improving your people’s performance.

Hiring the Right Candidate: The Final Decision

Hiring the right candidate for a sales position is a challenging task because if you miss the mark you lose time, money, enehiring thr right candidatergy and customers. I recognize that it is impossible to completely eliminate “hiring mistakes.” However, it is possible to significantly reduce them as well as minimizing their impact when they are made.

Even when you use a hiring process like Top Grading or though the Performance-Directed Selection System (PDSS) your emotions and intuition will still play a big role in the final decision. I look at the final decision being a 50/50 proposition.

Half the decision is technical in nature. It is based on all the quantifiable data, scorecards and information obtained from reviewing resumes, telephone screenings, personal interviews and reference checks. It may also involve your team’s assessment of the candidate’s ability to perform the job. This tells you that the candidate is a “fit” for the job.

The second half of the decision is interpersonal and emotional. It involves your intuitive feel and desire to manage the candidate you choose. This part of the decision is explores the candidate’s “fit” with you.

As a manager, you can’t ignore either part of the decision. An unqualified candidate you like will probably fail just as readily as the qualified candidate you don’t like. Hiring the right candidate requires you to consider both aspects.

The following procedures outlined in the Performance –Directed Selection System or other systems like Top Grading will allow you to place the candidates interviewed into two categories:

1) those that are qualified, and
2) those that are not.

Then you must assess the candidates that are qualified against the specific demands of the job. Finally, you must ask yourself, “Do I have the capability and desire to help make this candidate successful?”

If you can answer “yes” to that question, we feel that the odds of you hiring the right candidate are quite good.
For more information on Hiring Winners click here hiring-winners.

Hiring Solutions: Getting Behind the Candidate’s Facade

hiring solutionsLooking for practical hiring solutions? Here’s some tips that will increase your effectiveness in hiring the right candidate.

One of the most challenging aspects of interviewing candidates is discovering the “real” candidate. Let’s face it; all candidates put their best foot forward in an interview. The hiring solutions outlined here will help you penetrate the interviewing facade so you can accurately assess each candidate’s fit for the job.

Establish rapport

Before candidates become comfortable sharing revealing information about themselves you first must establish rapport and an atmosphere of trust. This is established through the initial icebreaker questions and the manner in which you structure the interview.

As the interview progresses into the candidates work history and experience the discussion of factual data puts the candidate further at ease, and serves as a springboard for obtaining more subjective, insightful information.

Elicit Proof

You have the right to delve into candidates’ specific ability to do the job. This means you must focus interview questions to elicit proof their knowledge, skills, and personal attributes.

When candidates indicate they have a specific quality, skill or trait you must obtain supporting evidence that evaluate it against the requirements of the job. This means eliciting revealing examples of how that quality, skill or trait was exhibited.

To probe more sensitive, revealing areas, open-ended performance-directed questions will help gauge how a candidate’s experiences compare with the position’s critical job dimensions.

For example, if organizational ability is a prime job requirement, you might ask, “Was yesterday a fairly typical day?” If the candidate says yes, you can seek detailed evidence by asking, “Then please describe your day for me. When did you begin? When did you end? Where and how did you spend your time?” Listen carefully to what they say and don’t say. When the candidate’s response is vague or incomplete, additional probing with evidence-seeking questions elicits specific, measurable proof of performance. Keep exploring until you get an accurate picture of how the candidate actually performed. Insist upon specific examples.  Without them, critical job dimensions may be impossible to evaluate.

Don’t Lead or Project

Be careful not to project or lead candidates towards specific responses by saying something like, “Do you prioritize your calls?” Instead let candidates fill in the blanks with what they actually do. Ask, “What you did next?” or,”Why did you choose that customer?” The burden of proof is upon the candidate, but it’s up to you to explore every area that is relevant. Take the time needed to create the right atmosphere so that candidates comfortably share how they perform and who they really are are.

Making good hiring decisions is essential for business success. Using these hiring solutions as a guide will help prevent surprises and increase the chances of hiring the candidate that is best for you.